A paralegal is a person who has the necessary education and training to perform legal work that is not considered to be within the scope of an attorney. They are often employed by law firms, insurance companies, banks, public agencies, and other institutions. Their duties vary depending on where they are employed but can include the following: conduct research for lawyers or other employees in their company; draft documents; provide assistance with courtroom testimony; assist in preparing for trial; investigate facts related to cases; interview witnesses or potential clients, and prepare exhibits or other visual aids for court proceedings.
Becoming a paralegal is a smart move in this economy. The career field is expected to grow by at least 12 percent in the next decade. And the average salary is considered very good by most people. If you think you’d enjoy being a paralegal, keep reading.
How do you become a paralegal?
Learning about the law is absolutely essential for aspiring paralegals. The most common way to become an entry-level paralegal is through earning an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies. This education prepares students with fundamental knowledge of legal procedures and ethics necessary for being successful in their careers. But you don’t have to completely change your lifestyle in order to attend college. Many students find a paralegal education online to be the best path for them. It’s important to note that many programs even give students the option to specialize in different areas of the law, like family law or bankruptcy.
What are some common duties of a paralegal?
While many people think that paralegals perform most of a lawyer’s duties, they don’t. The most important thing to remember is that a paralegal isn’t qualified to handle legal cases. Instead, their role is limited to providing support for lawyers. A paralegal will do things like review documents, prepare financial documents, draft affidavits, take depositions, and perform legal research. They’re also usually responsible for organizing client documents and all documents for trials. Staying organized in this capacity can be tricky, so they’ll often use a printed pocket folder to keep things neat and easy to find.
Using separate pocket folders or envelopes for each project is not only essential for organization. It’s also crucial for confidentiality. As you can imagine, exposing private information to someone not involved in a case could end your career and possibly put the attorney you’re working for at risk of ruining theirs. If you’re able to clearly label and separate client information, you lessen the risk of giving the wrong documents to the wrong clients.
How do you find your first job as a paralegal?
Finding paralegal jobs can be difficult, but there are a few steps you can take to make the process easier. The first thing you’ll want to do is network. Get to know other people in the legal profession by joining community service organizations or looking for paralegal associations online. You can also network via social media. The best place for professional networking of this type is LinkedIn, where you can update your profile to reflect your skills and training. Next, find out as much as possible about any company and position you plan to apply for. Check out their website and social media pages to learn more about them and message them about their openings. Finally, when applying, make sure that your resume is tailored specifically for each job opening and includes all relevant qualifications and experience. If you are not confident in the way your resume looks, you can even hire a professional resume writer to help you out. The main thing to remember is that you want to appear as educated and professional as possible when applying in this field.
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